The ability to communicate effectively is an invaluable life skill. We communicate with many people on a daily basis, whether at home or at work, but we rarely put any thought into how we communicate. Here are some tips for improving your communication skills.
1. Pay Attention to your Body Language
Our body language conveys much more than we think. You might tell a loved one you’re open to a discussion, but your arms are folded. You might say you’re listening to someone but, if you haven’t looked away from your phone or computer, are you really?
Consider the way you hold yourself. Think about how much eye-contact you make. Try adopting a power pose to give yourself more confidence. Once you become self-aware you can correct your body language to truly reflect your verbal communication.
2. Repeat what the other person says and ask questions
We’ve all been there – the awkward nodding and smiling when we’ve zoned out of the conversation. Asking questions forces you to listen to what the other person is saying, and by repeating their words you show that you’re interested in what they have to say, and helps clarify things that might otherwise have been misunderstood.
3. Be B.R.I.E.F.
Use the acronym Background, Reason, Information, End, Follow-up to help you keep your emails and phone-calls short and sweet without leaving anything out. Being clear and concise is important when communicating effectively, and using this acronym is one way of ensuring clarity.
4. Be more empathetic
Being empathetic means you can understand what a person is feeling in a given moment, and understand why their actions made sense to them. If you can try to understand where the other person is coming from, especially in difficult conversations, it becomes easier to interact with them. In addition to this, tailor how you talk depending on whom you’re speaking to. You don’t talk to your boss in the same way you’d talk to your significant other! Keeping their perspective in mind will help you get the right message across.
5. Plan your small talk
Small talk is almost everyone’s worst nightmare; most associate it with awkward silences interspersed with comments about the weather. Try planning ahead with the FORD acronym: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. It gives you a few topics to discuss, and if you share this information about yourself you might find some common ground!
6. Try to, like, lose the, err, you know, unnecessary conversation fillers
Cutting the conversation fillers makes you appear more persuasive and confident. One way is to track when you say words like “um” or “like” – you’ll be surprised at how often they crop up! Try pausing before you speak, and thinking about what you want to articulate. The only person who will notice the pause is you!
7. Put Away the Distractions
Picture the scene: you’re in a restaurant, sitting at a table for two. The person opposite you has put their phone on the table. It flashes and vibrates, and they check it while you’re mid-sentence. Who is more important to them right now: you or the person at the other end of the phone?
To show respect to others, as well as actively engage with and listen to them, put away your phone or turn away from your screen. The other person will feel valued and a better relationship will form.
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Charlotte Robinson, Administrator